"We seek peace with every fiber of our being and detest war, but we are sober, and we know that he who seeks peace should prepare for war," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday evening at the Air Force flight school graduation ceremony at the Hazerim air base.
"Only deterrent military strength and superior excellence lead to a swift victory, and they are what will lead to peace. And when achieved, it will be stable and long-lasting," he said.
Barak also addressed Israel's kidnapped soldiers. "On this day we remember the captives and await the moment when we will learn their fates and see them come home," he said.
President Shimon Peres also attended the event. "Israel must do everything to ensure the wellbeing of every soldier, the redemption of every captive and the honor of those who have fallen. The efforts to trace the whereabouts of Ron Arad should serve as a symbol of this commitment. The heart of our nation beats always with the hearts of our sons, wherever they may be," he said.
Peres also praised the IAF's record, quoting foreign media reports that it has launched strikes against two nuclear facilities (Iraq in 1982 and Syria in 2007). "This is an unprecedented achievement," said Peres.
IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, reiterated his previous statements at the ceremony: "It is the deep and long-standing moral obligation of the country and the IDF to bring the captive soldiers home."
On Wednesday Ashkenazi said "everything in our power must be done to bring back every one of our soldiers taken captive by the enemy in the line of duty as the defenders of the State of Israel. It is the duty of the Israeli public, and it is our duty as an army."